Ten worst number-one hits of the 1970s

The 1970s did produce some excellent music, of course, but these songs had no business hitting the top of the charts.
Paul Anka in concert
Paul Anka in concert / United Archives/GettyImages
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10. "DISCO DUCK" by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots (1976)

As a piece of music, “Disco Duck” is fairly wretched. Its beat, which is the best thing about it, may rise up to average. The rest of the production is thin and watery. The chorus is lifeless. I suppose you could dance to it if you were sufficiently lubricated at your local club, but I’d probably sit this one out and wait for “Play That Funky Music White Boy,” which hit the top spot a few weeks before the Duck.

The story is lame. Dees sells it with the high gloss passion of a radio DJ, which is exactly what he was. He certainly was not a singer. And then there is the duck itself. Truth be told, it’s a damn fine Donald Duck impression. But it has no place in a pop song. Maybe if the song were about fifty times more clever, but it isn’t. It’s not particularly funny, which makes that duck voice remarkably grating after about two seconds of novelty.

The reason it isn’t higher (or lower) on my list is because of that novelty. Dees wasn’t trying to write a serious pop song. He was just goofing. So I can’t say this is as bad as what is to come. But even for a novelty, “Disco Duck” is garbage.

Check out C. W. McCall’s “Convoy,” another novelty song that hit number one at the beginning of ’76. C.W. McCall doesn’t even exist. The name is an invention of the two men who created the novelty song about truckers and CB radio. It’s a bit silly, but it’s a fun ride and an actual song. “Disco Duck” is enough to make Daisy leave Donald.

9. “MAKE IT WITH YOU” by Bread (1970)

I have no problem with soft rock. But it should never be this soft. I mean, the Carpenters' “Close to You” and the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You” bookended Bread’s song at number one, and they’re not even close to making my list. They’re decent songs. “Make It With You,” on the other hand, is as syrupy as you get outside of your local IHOP.

David Gates, frontman and primary songwriter for the band, can sing. It’s not a great voice, but it’s pleasant enough. The first verse of this song could go either way. It’s an understated production but that might work with the laid-back sentiment. Then the second verse kicks in, with strings now backing Gates, and we struggle not to fall asleep. It is followed by the least conspicuous guitar solo I know of. It begins as if it might go somewhere, only to be immediately swallowed up by those Ambien-like strings. I can’t imagine what it was like in the mixing booth when that decision was made.

Of course, there is no way to know this, but it would be fascinating to know how many amorous youngsters actually sealed the deal to the sound of David Gates’ voice. I find it hard to believe that anyone ever did. I mean, Tom Jones, Barry White – I can see that. But there must be a thousand better ways to tell someone “I’d Like to Make It With You” than this song.